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The Playlist: Brittany Howard’s Fresh Funk, and 13 More New Songs


Instead of making another album as the singer and leader of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard will release a solo debut in September. “History Repeats” is a deep funk workout, thick and crunchy, with Howard’s staccato guitar and Paul Horton’s squawky clavinet tossing licks back and forth. “I just don’t wanna be back in that place again,” she sings, but whether she’s talking about personal or societal trauma, she plunges in anyway. JON PARELES

Willie Nelson, 86, defies but calmly acknowledges mortality in “Come on Time.” His lyrics tease time itself with puns — beating time, killing time — but eventually admit its ravages. Upbeat but never rushed, “Come on Time” — one of three of Nelson’s own new songs on his latest album, “Ride Me Back Home” — faces reality with grizzled nonchalance. PARELES

It’s eerie how effective Juice WRLD’s melancholy sing-rapping feels when aligned with the aspirated chill of Ellie Goulding, a singer with a keen melodic instinct but not much vim. In this duet, they’re well matched. Goulding’s resentment is a little distant and processed, which is her wont, and Juice WRLD’s is characteristically raw: “Tell me how I’m trash and you could easily replace me/Tell me that I’m strung out, wasted on the daily/Probably ’cause there’s nobody around me numbing all my pain.” JON CARAMANICA

Of course she knows better. “You remind me of my past/That’s why I know that this won’t last,” admits Julia Michaels, the songwriter who specializes in the self-destructive pop bummer. On this song from her EP “Inner Monologue Part 2,” her breathy voice bounces across acoustic guitar chords and a looping beat; with eyes open, she’s “ready to be hurt again,” wishing for the best while expecting the worst. PARELES

The way Daniel Caesar sings his way through a lyric is signature and poignant: He shows up, is emotionally present, and as his voice trails off at the end of each line, he leaves a gut punch in his wake. Caesar just released his second album, “Case Study 01,” which includes this duet with the R&B star Brandy. She’s a much more forceful singer than he is, so it’s intriguing to hear her emulate his gestures — in this tale of a connection that never quite takes, he sounds resigned, while she sounds like she’s seething, but trying to keep it under control. CARAMANICA

Vocal harmonies twist and turn, completely a cappella (overdubbed) at first, in “Receipts” as Josiah Wise — a.k.a. serpentwithfeet — ponders a series of grateful questions surrounding “Who taught you how to love me?” and Ty Dolla Sign poses even more. A fitful beat, a few piano chords and some strings — pizzicato and sustained — drift in and out. Although there’s no rapping at all, the cadences and origami-folded wordplay — “chlorophyll” rhymes with “skills to steal” — of hip-hop thoroughly inform this song. PARELES

Gallant revels in masochistic romance in “Sharpest Edges.” The painful edges are in the lyrics, about an irresistible femme fatale he finds he’s willing to suffer for: “Are those 10 knives or your fingertips?” he sings. The pleasurable payoff is in the music, harking back to the 1980s era of Michael Jackson’s vocal harmonies and Prince’s synthesizers, all sweet, glassy smoothness. PARELES

The Minneapolis quartet Graveyard Club makes moody synth rock befitting its name. “William,” a standout from the group’s album “Goodnight Paradise,” out Friday, is a brooding, yearning electro-goth song about reflecting on death to learn something about life. If it hasn’t been plucked to soundtrack “emotional realization” moments on screens of all sizes, music supervisors are sleeping on it. CARYN GANZ

Forty-nine seconds! Very punk! In case you forgot! Blink-182 was a punk band! Not one of the great pop acts of the turn of the century! Punk! Say it with me! Punk! CARAMANICA

Did you say something about punk, Jon? I’ll be over here celebrating the return of rock with the Hives, the dapper Swedish band led by the charismatic, daring and always precise frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. In case memories are foggy: the Hives’ “Hate to Say I Told You So” joined the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl” and the Vines’ “Get Free” as the backbone of many a rock ’n’ roll dance party in the early 2000s. “Good Samaritan,” half of a limited edition 7” out Friday on Jack White’s Third Man Records, heralds the arrival of the band’s first album since 2012, due later this year. The timing couldn’t be better. GANZ

Javier Limón, who has won a Latin Grammy as producer of the year, has worked with singers who draw on the vocal catch and cry of Moorish-Iberian tradition, among them Buika from Spain, rooted in flamenco, and Mariza from Portugal, rooted in fado. He chose Nella, a Venezuelan singer living in New York who can convey flamenco tension even in a near-whisper, to perform a full album of his own songs. They are poetic outpourings of longing and resolve accompanied mostly by pristine acoustic picking, with Iberian and Latin American underpinnings. The title song, “Voy” (“I Go”), is about leaving everything behind; there’s proud determination behind its delicacy. PARELES

On his new album, “Antidote,” Chick Corea revisits the celebratory vibe and some of the repertoire from “My Spanish Heart,” his 1976 love letter to the traditional sounds of Spain: classical, flamenco and Afro-Latin music. He originally recorded “Duende” for a different album, but this 10-minute-long, suite-like rendering underlines the tune’s Iberian angles, particularly thanks to Corea’s zipping, two-handed piano runs and the strutting waltz rhythm carried off by the drummer Marcus Gilmore, sounding at once punctilious and free. RUSSONELLO

Emily Sprague moved to Los Angeles, leaving Florist’s other two members in New York, and recorded her latest songs by herself. The result is the straightforwardly titled album, “Emily Alone,” due in July. “Time Is a Dark Feeling” meditates on a separation from “somebody you knew and now you don’t,” with a bedroom-recording quietude, cycling through three picked chords with occasional ghostly doublings of voice and guitar. “These are the days like the deepest caves you would never dare to descend into,” Sprague sings, but somehow she’s consoled. PARELES

This joyful ballad is a highlight from Ibrahim’s songbook, and he makes it the centerpiece of his latest release, “The Balance.” Devoted to his late wife, the vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin, it was originally recorded for the pianist’s classic album “Water from an Ancient Well,” but here it receives a loving restoration at the hands of Ekaya, his current septet. The alto saxophonist Cleave Guyton expertly fills the role once reserved for Carlos Ward, building a solo of praise that spirals upward. At the end he never returns to the melody; instead his saxophone just glides into the horizon: a gentle wail, then a warble, then a stealing away. RUSSONELLO





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